Menu Planning 101

I remember being Jessica’s age and watching my mom sit at the kitchen table cutting coupons and organizing her list for shopping. In fact I used to play “coupons” when I was allowed to play with a scissors finally.


Listen to that. I was a weird kid. Couldn’t wait to get my hands on them there scissors so I could cut paper! And pretend to be shopping! For groceries!

Maybe that’s not weird. Any way – I’ve carried this over into my own household now. Last year I was really good about making a menu plan and then a grocery list to shop from which not only saved me time, but saved our family money because I was organized.

I haven’t been very organized these past 4 or 5 months and part of that is all. of. this. which threw a pretty hefty fork in the the clanks of my organization. In fact it pretty much stopped it in it’s tracks, it’s well oiled tracks.

But I’m finally getting back into the swing of things. Hence.

Menu Planning

Last weekend I sat down and make a menu plan and stuck to it pretty well.

B S L S D S stands for Breakfast, Snack, Lunch, Snack, Dinner, Snack. I plan each and every one of them.

Then right next to it I have this:

Menu Planning

I used to menu plan and shop for two weeks at a time but getting back into this I’m taking it slower, making sure I make the best meal decisions since we have a lot more produce in our meals. I’d rather not throw half of it away by the time I need it. So now I’m planning for one week increments.

Then I take stock of my pantry.

Menu Planning

Menu Planning

Menu Planning

And try to use as much of it as I can but this week I didn’t use any. I need to get better at that. And I need to use more of the dried beans I have stocked up.

Weekends are always the hardest as far as meals go – we’re pretty busy and like to be out and about so eating on a menu plan (unless pic-nicing) during the weekends is uber difficult for us. We do plan the meals we know for sure we’re eating out – so on those evenings I’ll just write “Dinner out” where appropriate.

Tomorrow is my menu planning day but because this coming week is a busy one for us I think I’m going to play a little game we like to call “Pantry Roulette” and I was taught this game, again by my mother, my crazy, crazy woman-mom.

I think in order for her to find a happy place, where sanity was key, she would make up these competitions in her mind – where she had to race through a task and do it better than the last time. Like she was keeping track of how awesome her uber ego was – and she always won. So moral of this story is: My mom could kick Martha Stewart’s ass, with grace. Also, Matlock? My mom changed your diapers.

Pantry Roulette is going to be a whole lotta “How far can I make this bag of Dulse seaweed go, and what can I make with it to ensure my kids eat some?” or “I have a can of beans, tomato paste and some frozen fish … wheres the meal? GO!”

4 thoughts on “Menu Planning 101

  1. Okay… so I am MUY intimated by your organization of your pantry. Also, jealous of a wide pantry (versus my deep one). Dulse seaweed? Really? People (err…umm… you???) eat that? Seriously? Is it actually GOOD? There is a great app for the iphone… probably have similar online… that you enter three or four ingredients and poof! you get a choice of meals. Not that I remember the site. Just wanted to put that out there.

  2. this made me laugh, which I totally needed tonight as I’m sitting knee deep in adulthood with budgets, organization and planning ahead. PLANNING AHEAD.

    They should teach that in school. I’m just saying.

    any way – yes we eat Dulse seaweed, it’s salty … mostly in soups. Kinda like miso if you’ve ever had it. (only it looks like sauted spinach. hey you asked)

    I definitely want the name of that iphone app! Let me know if you find it, I’ll search otherwise, too.

    My pantry is not organized, it’s just empty and that helps. We have a closet directly to the left of where the pantry is now – and it was the deepish kind. Very difficult to actually see and remember what I had in there. Right now (still from old pantry transition) I have about 10 jars of jam. JAM! and we don’t even eat jam.

    Issues. I’m full of them.

  3. Ooh! Ooh! I remembered! It may not be as creative as YOU but all recipes, Inc is the app and it helps you by giving a spinner selection based on the meal (b-fast, lunch, etc.) and the foods you have and the time you want it made in. If I had the iPhone (not that I’m bitter) I’d still use it but it never helps me when I’m AT the store looking for stuff to make and have zero wi-fi (still not bitter…)

  4. So, I love menu planning. It might be my favorite part of the whole ordeal. I do like the actual shopping too but the following through every single week with the plan isn’t always my favorite.

    Sometimes, cooking Asiago Crusted Chicken with Mustard Glazed Carrots sounds easy enough for a Tuesday night on SUNDAY but when Tuesday comes around – going to Iguana or eating a grilled cheese sandwich is just way more appealing. So sometimes, I fail miserably at the following through part.

    I am also going to have to get that app. I use Grocery IQ (app) for the actual list part but being able to create a meal out of the crap I have in the house would be really nice.

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